Wednesday, November 23, 2011


This year, I am thankful for:

- My new baby girl, E, and her big brother (almost two!), W. They are the lights of my life. I was in the car recently singing a song with W and I broke down in happy tears. I cannot believe that I am a mother.
- My sweet and abiding partner, Michael. He stands by me when I'm at my most crazy (way too often) and he's just as complex as I am. We do not have an easy relationship, he and I, but we have a real relationship with its ups, downs, and all-over-the-places. I am very grateful to know him and to be partnered with him in life and in parenthood.
- My job. I don't always enjoy it and I'm really wishing I had more time off for maternity leave (I start back at work next week), but in an economy like this, I am very lucky to have a job in my field that is relatively secure. It's not perfectly secure, of course (what is?), but I don't expect to be out of a job for the next year or two, and that's a big ass deal.
- My mother. She is, like Michael, incredibly complex. And like my job, I don't always enjoy her. But she's here and we have a relationship that I cherish, even when it isn't going well. We are doing the best we can, and given that she's in her 70s, I'm aware that she won't be here forever.
- My health. I'm about 40 lbs overweight (!!!), have arthritis in my knees and tendonitis in my wrists, and sometimes it feels like I'm far older than 42, especially when I've been up multiple times a night to feed E. In other words, every damn morning. But still: I have it. One of Michael's sisters is incredibly ill with multiple autoimmune diseases and a poor prognosis. When I feel crappy, I think of her. Life could be much worse.
- My brain. It works, most of the time, and even though I've got newborn-in-the-house fogginess, my mind is emerging slowly from the fog. I expect it to be back, eventually. I hope that when I go back to work next week, it works enough that I don't feel like an asshole at my first big meeting (on Monday, the day I return).
- And of course, I am grateful for the ability to feed my family every day without worry, for having shelter, for having warm clothes as winter sets in, and for not being too much in financial need. I'm thankful that my problems are first world problems, as they say, and I pledge again (and again, and again) to work so that others have the same sense of security and safety.

I suppose these are all fairly predictable things to be thankful for, so I'll add a few less predictable ones:
- My DVR. This one is silly. Remember when we had to be home at a certain time to watch tv? I love that those days are gone. I love that I can save an old movie for middle of the night feedings if I need it. I love that I can fast forward through a trashy real housewives episode so that I don't feel too pathetic watching it in real time.
- Faceb.ook. I know, I know. It's a major time suck and it's not *that* interesting. This is another silly one. But I love that I can keep up with long lost friends from high school and college. I was not a popular kid in HS and my college friends are sometimes people I cannot imagine being real friends with today, but it's pretty cool to see what happened to all of them. I could not have conceived of such a thing when I graduated college (in, I'm old!).
- NPR. Actually, this one isn't so silly. I value that I get to hear quality programming in the car any time of the day or night. I'm a totally junkie for NPR programs, and yes, I'm a member, so I do my part (even though I share everyone else's hatred for pledge drives).
- The blogworld: another non-silly thing I'm pleased is part of my life. I'm still a newbie in this blog world, but I'm really quite thrilled that my words go out into the interwebs and are read by people who don't live in my town, aren't in my academic field, and yet who I care about a great deal.  I value this community so much, even more now that I'm an itinerant blogger. Thank you, dear readers, for reading and writing!!!

I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving, if this is a holiday you're celebrating!

Monday, November 7, 2011

words, words, words

I am loving the almost-two-ness of W these days. His language skills are exploding, right before my eyes. He repeats everything we say, he's putting together short sentences of his own making, and he is expressing his own ideas in word form. We always knew what he meant by his facial expressions and the pointy little finger he'd jab at us or at something he wanted to touch or hold. But language! It's so amazing to witness.

We had a baby naming ceremony yesterday and it was absolutely lovely. Eliza got her Hebrew name and our family and friends were very pleased. I may have mentioned this before, but I'm a secular Episcopalian and my partner is a secular Jew, and it was more important to him than to me that we teach the kids about our traditions, so we did a Bris for my son and a Naming Ceremony for her. I am totally on board with this plan, but every now and then I feel like an outsider in my own family. I don't share my partners' or my kids' last names (again, I am totally on board--I've long hated my last name and his is melodic) and I'm not Jewish. I didn't think it would matter--and it really doesn't in the grand scheme of things--but at moments like the naming ceremony yesterday, I felt that outsiderness. I don't know Hebrew, I was only marginally a part of the ceremony, and I know that when the Cantor was singing out the long connection to the Jewish tradition that Eliza is now part of, he didn't really mean to include me. He did because he's a kind and generous man, but the tradition he was referring to does not include lapsed Episcopalians who are really agnostic and spiritual, not religious or connected to a cultural heritage by birth.

In a sense, I felt out of words, not the ones I was saying, but the ones that were being said about my daughter. I feel more comfortable with the words of W--his word salad includes me. Depends on me, in a sense, and connects me to him more than either of these ceremonies did.

I am very glad we did both ceremonies and I think I will be glad that the kids have this cultural, historical, and personal connection to their father and to Judaism. But I will need to find ways to become more connected, myself, either by last name or by becoming like a secular Jew myself. Not sure where my path will lead me.